Perfection is not humanly possible, but excellence is. Allowing yourself and others to be imperfect can lead to excellence – the closest any of us will get to perfection.
Buildings made to withstand earthquakes have to be flexible. Rigid buildings will crumble and fall during an earthquake. The same goes for the perfectionist in the face of a challenge.
Rigid perfectionism leads to breakdown. Perfectionism makes you anxious about the future. Perfectionism makes you depressed about the past. Perfectionism in your relationships will overwhelm you or those you love.
Flexibly accepting imperfection leads to excellence. Flexibility makes you confident about the future. Flexibility makes you humble about the past. Flexibility in your relationships helps you trust.
Confidence, humility, and trust, are ingredients of excellence.
Confidence Builds Excellence
Confidence helps you try new things, even if there is a chance of failure. Confidence helps you to be satisfied with “good enough.” Whoever said “better to try and fail than fail by not trying” must have been talking to a perfectionist.
It might sound contradictory that being satisfied with “good enough” builds excellence. You could certainly go too far with that idea, and it would be counter productive. But if you’re a perfectionist, being satisfied with “good enough” means that you will actually finish projects.
If you can’t be satisfied with good enough, you will be perfecting it forever. You will never finish it.
He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
Humility Builds Excellence
Humility helps you to admit and accept failure. Pride keeps you from processing failure and dooms you to more of it.
By admitting and learning from failure, you can move toward excellence.
One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
“Lowly in spirit” is another way of saying, “he who is humble” will obtain honor.
Trust Builds Excellence
You can’t do everything on your own. It’s cheesy but true to say, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” You need to be able to share the burden. You need to be able to delegate.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
The meaning of “burdens” in that passage indicates something heavy enough to crush a person. You cannot carry “burdens” alone, but you can and should carry “loads” alone. A “load” being something more like your backpack or briefcase.
And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Trust helps you to face life’s challenges with people who will protect you and share your burdens.
- How can you grow in confidence, trust, or humility?
- Which of these is easiest or hardest for you?